50 years ago: The mobile call that ushered in a revolution for humanity

It was on April 3, 1973, that an engineer working for American company Motorola made a phone call that ushered in a new era for humanity.

The phone he was using weighed nearly a kilo. It took 10 hours to charge for 30 minutes of call time.

But the Motorola DynaTac 8000X was the world’s first-ever commercial mobile phone. And its inventor Martin Cooper had just made its first-ever call.

Half a century later, his invention is now being used by more than 68% of the population. And at an average of five hours per day – according to the Digital Global Summary Report 2023 – usage occupies 30% of their owners’ working life.

The first-ever call

Monday, 3 April, marks the 50th anniversary of Cooper’s call to Joel Engel, a competitor’s researcher.

Cooper said, “Joel, I’m calling you from a mobile phone. From a real one.”

Silence was the response he got.

Nothing foretold that the mobile phone call would lead to all the functionalities that cell phones have today.

Its inventor, recalled in an interview with EFE that when he made this call to Engel, a researcher at Bell Laboratories, that he did not imagine that in the future these devices would incorporate digital cameras or the internet.

However, Cooper did predict that everyone would have a mobile phone.

Mobile phones have evolved half a century later into sophisticated smartphones, devices that are powerful enough to be used as computers. Foldable, non-foldable, extendable, light or heavy, the range of devices is abundant. 92.3% of mobile phones have internet access.

A revolution with 5.44 billion users

The invention has become one of the “great revolutions of humanity due to the change it has brought to our lives, even more than the landline telephone”, explains Fernando Suárez, president of the Spanish Association of Computer Engineers.

If it took almost 65 years for the conventional telephone to reach 100 million users, it has not even taken fifty years for the mobile phone to exceed 6,000 million, Suárez says.

Usage is increasing year by year, and, according to the Global Digital Summary Report 2023, a total of 5.44 billion people have access to one. Mobile users increased by just over 3% over the past year, with 168 million new users in the last 12 months.

Average usage is also growing. Seven minutes more on average in 2022 compared to 2021.


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